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Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.06.2013 (Article Archived on 20.07.2013)

Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to join in the thanks to the Financial Secretary and all of her team for the exemplary work that was done in preparing the budget.



by J. Brock (FINN)



Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I
would like to join in the thanks to the Financial Secretary and all of her team
for the exemplary work that was done in preparing the budget.  And as my Honourable Colleague has said, this
is an instance when technology really works for us. And we could be updated
almost instantaneously on the effect of decisions we were making on the
all-important bottom line.


We will probably be criticised if
we take potential oil revenues into account and equally criticised if we
donít.  I think we struck a safe balance
with this budget.  We have to remember
that the earliest that the oil can start flowing is late 2017 and I stress that
this is the earliest.  And actual
revenues in the form of royalties and tax will be somewhat beyond that.


I, too, am pleased that we have
been able to address the concerns about lower earners by raising the tax
threshold.  And of course, the lowest
earners wouldnít be paying that tax anyway by creating a matching threshold
with Medical Services Tax. 


We have been told in the past that
Health and medical Services would receive more extra money as a result of MST.  However, if you look at the figures, I can
remember (and this is my 12th budget) but I can remember when the
health budget reached a shocking £5Million a year.  This year I think it is truer to say it is
near £8.3Million.  And there is a clear
understanding that that will continue to rise. 
We canít predict things like medical treatment overseas or urgent
medivacs.  And those are the expensive


Turning to my portfolio of
Education, we have some very good news stories in terms of recruitment and retention
of staff.  Many thanks for those who have
been acting in senior roles in the meantime while there has been quite a lot of
movement.  I am glad to say that we also
have a little bit of breathing space before we will have to provide additional
facilities.  And the working group has
now looked at the two available sites. 
We have had to abandon the first because potentially we may need a
bigger one.  The second looks very
promising and large enough to allow future expansion.  When we have a clearer idea of likely
numbers, of future needs, the likely short-term scenario is specialist rooms to
free space in both schools and to provide more and better facilities for the
large number of special needs pupils for whom we cater.  Other rooms are no longer fit for purpose Ė
not so much because of numbers but because the standards to which you are
expected to operate labs, food rooms, and things have moved on over the
years.  The new secondary school is no
longer new and some of it is no longer fit for purpose.


In the meantime we continue our
policy of splitting Infant and Junior classes as soon as they reach 30.  This is important because one of the big
advantages we can offer to some of the disadvantages in the situation in which
we operate is to give small classroom numbers. 
So if a class is about to reach 30 it will be split giving 2 of 15.  Even our biggest years, I believe, are in the
40ís so when they split they still have class numbers in the low 20ís, which I
feel, would be the envy of some people.


Students are in the midst of their
GCSE exams and I wish them the best in those, likewise those who are doing ďAĒ
Levels finals and other exams.  Our
Students and most of our other people do us great credit and they give me great
optimism for the future.  Thatís one of
the reasons why I, too, welcome the report of the Remuneration Group and the
main finding that Members should be full time in the future and will be paid.


Unlike my Honourable Colleague
over there, I believe it is well nay impossible for a young person to stand
now.  And one of the aims of the
Remuneration Committee was surely to ensure that it did become a more
attractive proposition for a younger person with a family and almost certainly
a mortgage as well.  I have observed the
more increasing demands of the job since 1981 and I have experienced them first
hand for nearly 12 of the last 16 years. 
Itís very important that future candidates know on what basis they will
be standing and understand that though itís called full time, itís not just a 9
to 5 commitment.  Itís rather more than


The workload is likely to continue
growing for the foreseeable future.  And
one of the suggestions which I put to the Committee and which I think will
require some thought in the future because it may involve constitutional change
is increasing the number of Members so that some peopleís jobs will be made
more manageable. 


To do a thorough job and have time
to do all the research and planning really wonít leave time for secondary
employment.  While some of the detail has
still to be worked through, I firmly believe that Assembly Members will be much
better  people to serve the Falklands
when they donít have to juggle workloads. 
An added benefit, which I am sure will be appreciated by Gilbert House
staff will be the ability to arrange meetings without having to fit them around
complex duty schedules.


A Ministerial System has also been
mentioned; and as our democracy develops, that becomes inevitable.  But it will be impossible to do on a part
time basis.


I think it appropriate now to pass
our thanks to Richard Cockwell, Lewis Clifton and Justin McPhee for all the
work they have done on this issue for us.


I support the Motion.


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